Welcome to this week’s edition of Saturday Science Links. This week’s headlines included a batosaur, the celebration of Hubble’s 25th birthday, and a Kermit the Frog doppelganger.
Happy birthday, Hubble! On April 25, NASA’s Hubble space telescope turned 25, marking a quarter of a century of revelation of the deepest secrets of space. To mark the anniversary, NASA captured stunning photos of stars being born in a cluster of stars called “Westerlund 2.”
The second pocket shark to ever be seen was recently discovered 190 miles offshore Louisiana, reported a study published in Zootaxa; the last one was seen 36 years ago off the coast of Peru. It’s tiny and probably qualifies as adorable.
One frog species is causing people do a double take. Due to its bulging white eyes and bright green skin, a newly discovered Costa Rican translucent glass frog species looks a lot like Kermit the Frog.
Within the Peruvian Amazon, there is a caterpillar with four coiled tentacles that uncoiled upon the slightest sound. It was discovered by Aaron Pomerantz, an entomologist with the ecotourism company Rainforest Expeditions; Pomerantz captured a video of the interaction—potentially the first that captures this behavior. Scientists think the action is a defense behavior, one possibility being that it distracts predators.
We’ve all heard that of animals who have interesting capabilities. Mechanical engineers at Stanford University took cues from one such animal—a gecko—to create robots that weigh nine grams and can haul more than a kilogram up a vertical wall. The robots are able to do this because of their ‘feet’ that are covered in tiny rubber spikes that mimic the small hairs on gecko’s feet that allow them to climb structures. The engineers also created a robot that weighs 12 grams and can move objects that weigh 2000 times that. Robots such as these could be helpful in life-threatening situations and construction sites.
A study published in Nature and conducted by researchers of the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University stated that wild bees become addicted to popular pesticides of the neonicotinoid family, which amongst others, includes imidacloprid, the most widely used insecticide in the world. The pesticide is thought to interfere with their growth and reproduction; researchers hope the findings will cause governments to ban the pesticides, as bees play an important role in ecosystems around the world.
When you think of dinosaurs, you probably have a particular image that comes to mind. However, the fossils of a 160-million-year-old dinosaur found in northeast China challenge these typical images and are puzzling scientists because it appears the dinosaur had bat-like, featherless wings. The fossils of the dinosaur were discovered by a research team led by Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing and Xianoting Zheng of Linyi University in Shandong Province. They named it “Yi qi” (pronounced “ee chee”), which means “strange wing” in Mandarin. It was a member of a small dinosaur carnivorous species called scansoriopterygids and had feathers but not ones that helped it fly, instead using wings much like those of bats or squirrels. This is significant because no other dinosaur has been discovered that has this feature. Theories on the implications of this discovery are still being formed, so scientists are unsure whether the wings indeed were used for flight, but suspect they may have been used for flight or were at least an early attempt at flight.
We have all heard that dolphins are intelligent creatures. But how do you demonstrate their intelligence? That’s the challenge given to National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, who took photos for a recent feature story for the magazine called “It’s Time for a Conversation.” The article focuses on the relationship between dolphins and humans, especially exploring dolphin cognition. By capturing photos of dolphins playing, hunting, and communicating, Skerry hopes to have demonstrated their intelligence. Check out the video, photos, and interview that offer a glimpse into his fascinating photographic journey with this special assignment.
Speaking of taking stunning photos of nature in action, a 25-year-old man from St. Louis named Tommy Goszewski captured breathtaking photos of Chile’s Calbuco eruption, which occurred on April 22 and again on the 23.
I’ll end this week’s edition of Saturday Science Links with an announcement: In response to requests from our BioLogos blog readers, we have decided to open the comment section for Saturday Science Links. Tell us your favorite story from this week, or share a story that we missed!
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blog/saturday-science-links-may-2-2015